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East Lansing Police survey shows Black residents don't trust the department

East Lansing Police
Posted at 5:08 PM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 17:57:24-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — 500 East Lansing residents were surveyed on their opinion of the East Lansing Police Department in March. Results show that African American residents don't feel as safe as others in the community.

“There’s much less trust among African Americans than there is among all respondents in the city of East Lansing,” said President of EPIC-MRA Bernie Porn.

Out of those 500 surveys, 51 were with African American residents.

“The census shows that African Americans are about just under seven percent of the population in East Lansing," Porn said. "But we ended up with, because of the oversampling, about 10 percent of the 500 samples surveyed.”

Among all 500 residents surveyed, 87 percent said they feel safe in East Lansing and 71 percent say they trust the police department.

Only 27% of Black residents taking the survey trust the East Lansing Police

"It was pretty positive among all respondents, but pretty negative among African Americans," said Porn.

Only 26 percent of Black respondents said they trust East Lansing Police.

There also was a sense of police bias among the wider group, as 56 percent all respondents said police officers do not treat Black people fairly.

56 percent all respondents said police officers do not treat Black people fairly

Longtime residents also tended to be more satisfied, Porn said.

“Some of the groups that were the most dissatisfied, you have obviously African Americans, but also you have people who have been in the city for less than five years, people who rent and do not own their home and MSU students and younger respondents,” Porn said.

The department came under increased scrutiny last year following two excessive force complaints. Neither complaint led to charges.

Deputy Chief of Police Steve Gonzalez said this survey tells the police department what they need to work on.

“To understand that there are people within our community that simply don’t trust the police is very informative for us and it allows us to start building strategies to build that trust and maintain it well into the future,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he hopes to see improvements if the survey is repeated in the future as they focus on building that trust through community policing.

"Whether they're residents, temporary residents, business owners, people visiting the city or even just traveling through the city," Gonzalez said. "We have to establish a high level of trust with all of those people."

The Police Reform Commission will continue to meet in hopes of improving the relationship between the community and the police.

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Mikayla Temple

Mikayla Temple

1:39 PM, Jan 05, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Mikayla Temple